Berkeley Talks: Deirdre Cooper Owens on gynecology’s brutal roots in slavery


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A portrait of historian Deirdre Cooper Owens

Deirdre Cooper Owens is a Charles and Linda Wilson Professor in the History of Medicine at the University of Nebraska and author of the book Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology. (Photo by Edward Cooper Owens)

Graphic for the 400th anniversary of slaves arriving in English colonies

Read more stories related to Berkeley’s 400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Injustice initiative.

On Feb. 21, 2020, Deirdre Cooper Owens, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Nebraska, was on campus to discuss her work tracing the origins of medical racism back to its roots. In her book Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the origins of American Gynecology, Cooper Owens reveals the ways the field of gynecology, pioneered by 19th century medical men, was deeply intertwined with the institution of slavery.

This talk was part of 400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Injustice, a yearlong initiative at Berkeley that marks the 400th anniversary of the forced arrival of enslaved Africans in the English colonies.

Read a Q&A with Cooper Owens on Berkeley News.